Our own Walking Purchase: Forest Bathing

I asked Gayle if she could think of an outdoor, quarantine-appropriate activity for the three of us— herself, me and the teenager.

She suggesting “forest-bathing” at Salisbury Township’s Walking Purchase Park.

According to Gayle’s research, forest-bathing is:

Forest bathing is the practice of slowly moving they the woods involving all senses. As you gently walk you breath deeply and it reduces stress, increase positive thinking, and energy levels.

Why not?

The park features several trails. We walked part of the yellow “Sweet Delight” trail and part of the red “Lenni” trail.

Gayle was disappointed we only walked about 2.5 miles, but I think the last mile was straight up hill— about 18 flights of stairs according to the Apple Health app.

Forest-bathing yielded a very Thoreau sounding journal entry for me.

I am surrounded by unblooming May flowers hearing the buzz of gnats as they swarm into my ears. There are birds chattering like squealing monkeys. The train hollers in the distance: a choo-choo bird.

A breeze cascades across the woods, a floral wave of rain drops and sunlight. I revel in the stillness.

The woods around me has a conversation, but as a human, can I learn the language?

When we got home, the teenager baked her grandmother’s famous corn bake— a recipe I believe she got in high school home ec classes. So it’s got to be 50+ years old.

Friday morning musings

Once I finish this, I will be logging into work. I don’t expect it to be an easy day, but I expect it to be decent. And it’s Friday. I have a meeting tonight with… let’s just say a freelance “client” about some editing I am doing on a key project. A good project. A project that could have a positive impact on my community.

I know my posts lately have been lists and animal updates. I’ve been musing a lot about what parts of life really bring personal contentment— and how that has to mesh with corporate America’s expectation that we are the worker bees. We are judged by our productivity, which is defined not by the benefit to the greater good but as money pocketed by those fortunate enough to stand among the elite.

Coupled with these thoughts of critical theory against the capitalistic machine, I find myself musing over pleasure versus good and its contribution to wellness. Let me explain, if I can.

Yesterday, I had some work stress that I had anticipated. So I ordered a pizza to provide some feel-good endorphins to keep my focus away from the computer screen and the universe that exists there now. I had dressed for the office, thinking that would give me confidence in this stressful time.

Dressing up at the home office

It worked— but I was so cold I soon had to change.

By the end of the day, ALL of the food choices I had made had no real nutritional value.

  • Breakfast: coffee and chocolate chip muffin
  • Lunch: half a Little Caesars Pepperoni Cheeser Cheeser and Coke Zero
  • Dinner: regular size bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and a Yuengling
Yes, I’m wearing footy pajamas in May

And now my weight is up. I’m about five pounds above my ideal weight now. But I look in the mirror and I see me. I don’t see five extra pounds.

They don’t lessen who I am.

But if I allow the cycle to continue, the pattern will negatively impact my health. So I need to chose.

Meanwhile today is warmer, but cloudy. I put on one of my favorite summer dresses and a cute cropped quasi-sweatshirt. I finished up the half and half so no more hot coffee. It’s free donut Friday at Dunkin if I leave the house. And the teenager has a fundraiser due today.

We need to clean this weekend, and the kittens gutted my one shelf in my closet (but they are so cute and give good cuddles so all is forgiven).

Maybe I have given you something to ponder. Happy Friday.

Realities of lemons and tandem bikes

Yes, I know the title is nonsense— but the world has turned a tad upside down as the world tends to do as having billions of people and billions of animals on a planet will erupt into some unexpected situations from time to time.

The teenager loves to eat lemons. I love to cook with lemons. For a while, especially when I first discovered Gaz Oakley the Avant Garde Vegan (Check him out on YouTube—amazing falafel, his own recipe for peri-peri sauce) I always kept fresh lemons in the house.

That was also about the time I would have lemon water first thing in the morning. The juice of half a lemon with tap water.

I did that again this morning. First time in probably a year. Or more.

Today was also the first time in a week I haven’t gained weight. The first month of this pandemic, I was eating better but stopped because… Easter… or so I claim. I am a jelly bean addict and once I start eating the jelly beans I launch onto a sugar and caffeine roller coaster.

This was breakfast. Not ALL of them.

So maybe this post should be called “bad habits.” I originally lost about 5 pounds due to stress in the beginning of the pandemic, but between beer, pizza, Easter candy, homemade cookies and triple jalapeño bacon cheeseburgers from Wendy’s they have found their way back.

But look— I got a salad

It’s been rough. More pressure than ever at work. A good friend walked away coldly without even saying goodbye. A work colleague who often made me smile left unexpectedly. Medical bills still coming in.

But in the end, I still feel inside these struggles help us grow and bring us to the next level— as another work colleague likes to say— we don’t age, we gain experience like in a video game. So I’m less than a month away from my 45th Level with the teenager two months away from Level 16 and a drivers license.

Designated Driver AND babysitter, mom friends out there!!!!

Yesterday was a sunny day amidst a forecast of rain. Last week the teenager did not complete her three weekly gym assignments and she told her teacher in her log that she “got lazy” and he wrote back that sometimes he gets lazy, too. This is a great lesson for our (older) kids in communication and work ethic. Those of you with younger kids, God Bless You and Keep You.

I would be screaming every day if the teenager were, say, six. Our brains are wired too differently.

But back to gym. We got out the tandem bike. (Yes, we have a bicycle built for two— it was a gift.) I wanted the teen to “win” gym this week. And she should get extra credit for captaining a bike with her mom, who has cerebral palsy and no real balance skills.

Then her dad came over and brought his famous hot buffalo chicken dip for dinner, at the teen’s request, and included beer for us grown-ups. And he even got on the bike! (He doesn’t ride bikes.)

I excused myself to work on some more chapters of Bill’s novel Debauchery (and reached the first sex scene— those characters are so in love it hurts). Please don’t be scared by the violence and BDSM in this novel/series. The real theme here is the beauty of acceptance no matter who you are.

And the first of several pet related packages came. So here is a Petco unboxing and some animal videos:

Petco unboxing
Nala eating pretzels with the teen

Let’s see what adventures today brings! Stay well, friends! Let’s crush this day!

Boxing

When the teenager was a wee thing, she idolized Buffy The Vampire Slayer. So much so that as a seven year old she named her kitten Oz after Seth Green’s werewolf character.

Shortly thereafter— I can’t remember if it were a birthday or a Christmas present—but we got her a real Everlast punching bag and boxing gloves.

So she could train for her superhero career.

Today, my boss asked me to work late. And I had a library board meeting at 7. At 4:45 pm, since I had no lunch, I clocked out on my 30-minute meal break and went to the garage with the teenager.

Slamming on that punching bag released a lot of tension from my shoulders.

And the teen has another unorthodox gym class to add to her log for her phys-ed teacher.

I logged back into work at 5:15 and worked until 6:30. I’m beat. But I’m glad I took the time to box a bit.

Sweet sleep

It’s 6:25 a.m. and I just poured a mug of my favorite coffee—Archer Farms Cafe Mosaica from Target. I haven’t made any in days. As part of my quest to lower my stress, fix my blood pressure and start sleeping better.

Before recent stress and life changes, I knew the routines of my body. I need at least eight hours sleep. As I get closer to my menstrual cycle, I may need more. It is typical for me to get so tired I sleep ten hours without moving in my bed. Usually only one day a month. But that hasn’t happened in a while.

For counterpoint, I usually have three days around the middle of my cycle where I’m high energy and extraordinarily confident. That hasn’t happened for a while either.

Both can probably be attributed to stress and hormone changes now that I am in my mid-forties.

There was a period for a year or so when I had insomnia once a month.

But now most of my issue is life. I think that’s how you know you’re getting older. More things disturb your sleep,

The garbage man arrives at 5:15. The cat has a hairball. The kittens decide to ricochet off my bedroom door. My personal favorite this week— the cockatoo has nightmares and calls out gently in her sleep.

So my typical sleep pattern is to collapse in bed between 9 and 10:30 pm, sleep like the dead for about 90 minutes, take about twenty minutes to fall back to sleep, get several hours good sleep before waking up briefly in the wee hours, drifting off again, and waking up when something else happens or one minute before the alarm.

(My superpower is innate time sense so I don’t often need my alarm.)

Thanks to the cockatoo’s rough night coupled with a 5:15 am visit front the garbage man, I got about six hours interrupted sleep Wednesday night. So yesterday—a long work day on top of it—I reneged on my caffeine abstention especially when I discovered my blood pressure had jumped to 153/98.

I had two cups at the office and a diet soda with dinner (that I used to wash down half a pizza) and I slept 7.5 hours last night and, according to the scale, lost a pound.

So today I am enjoying my favorite coffee and back to aiming for moderation.

Welcome 2020

Oh, God. I gained five pounds (and when you’re on the small side like me, five pounds is a lot). It’s cookie and alcohol and greasy food weight. It’s not going to the gym weight. It’s stress weight.

But the actual New Year Celebration was nice. I went to a local pub/pizzeria with someone I hope I can now call a friend. Apparently a large group of them (maybe connected from high school) just know to go to this pub on New Year’s Eve. Really informal but really comfortable and welcoming.

I drank more than I usually do, and was pleasantly surprised that I can still hold my booze. For most of the night I was drinking Fireball and diet. (See above note about being small.)

Yesterday the teen and I played Uno and ate too many of those cookies. I love UNO and I’m pretty good at it.

The teen and I even went to the gym today. We did primarily weights, but we went, I hit hard.

And perhaps one day soon I’ll open up about my adventures with Tinder and now apparently Facebook has a dating arm.

Interesting. I had a conversation with someone about the prospect of dating. I know I’m going to be extremely picky and have a lot of rules. So maybe I should focus on a basic social life and strengthening my emotional fortitude.

I think it’s going to be a wild winter.

Stamina and challenges

My daughter has rediscovered her love of the treadmill.

She has rekindled a dream of running in the spring with her very own dog by her side.

“Hey, Mom,” she calls to me after an afternoon with her grandparents, “I want to go to the gym.”

I don’t. But I’m stubborn and a lazy bodybuilding princess so I go. Because if she wants to go that’s a challenge to me.

I like challenges.

I even do the treadmill with her. I hate the treadmill. I hate the treadmill because with my cerebral palsy, the treadmill requires all my concentration.

But today, as she did walk/run intervals on her treadmill, I had a realization.

I’m not sure I know how to run.

I set my treadmill to intervals, too. My intervals were 3.5 miles per hour and 4 miles per hour. But that difference was enough that I had to run on the higher setting. It was hard to stand upright, run, and not use my arms against the handles to keep my balance as I ran.

That was interesting to learn.

I’ve always wanted to run a 5k, and the last time I tried I did all my training and the actual race with a broken toe.

So who knows.